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Jousting continues on legal front in New Orleans Saints' bounty court case

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Although the witness portion of the New Orleans Saints bounty hearings run by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue ended Monday, the legal tussling continued from both the league and the suspended players Tuesday. Counsels for the league and the suspended ...

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Old 12-04-2012, 09:47 PM   #1
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Although the witness portion of the New Orleans Saints bounty hearings run by former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue ended Monday, the legal tussling continued from both the league and the suspended players Tuesday.

Counsels for the league and the suspended players submitted replies to each others' memo ordered by U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan as Berrigan stated issues with the league levying punishment in the Saints' bounty scandal on players for "legal hits" and if the term "conduct detrimental" is too ambiguous, and hence unenforceable.

The league continued to contend that Commissioner Roger Goodell never suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, along with former Saints defenders Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove for on-field issues.
"An example of such an issue is whether 'agreement to injure,' as that term was used by the Appeals Panel, is a limitation on the Commissioner's 'conduct detrimental' authority, as the Union contends, or rather an example of 'conduct detrimental,' distinct from the conduct proscribed by Article 14 of the CBA," the league said in its reply. "The answer, in our view, is obviously the latter, and nothing in the Appeals Panel's decision suggests to the contrary. Mr. Hargrove, for example, was disciplined for lying to investigators, not for his role in any 'agreement to injure.' But if the NFLPA disagrees, that is an issue for arbitration (or future collective bargaining), not judicial resolution.

"Even if Commissioner Goodell had authority to discipline Mr. Vilma or Mr. Smith only for an 'agreement to injure,' there should be no serious dispute that offering to reward players for injuries to or disabling of opponents--cart-offs or knock-outs--constitutes such an agreement. Indeed, the Appeals Panel expressly held that Commissioner Goodell had jurisdiction to discipline the players whether or not any actual unsportsmanlike conduct actually occurred on the field.

"It is one thing to say that hard tackling is part of football. It is another entirely to enter into an agreement to reward not hard tackling, but injuries. The Union simply fails to acknowledge what is undisputed--if a player made a hard tackle but did not injure his opponent, he was ineligible for the program's "cart-off" or "knock-out" reward. Commissioner Goodell reasonably found that participation in a program that included such offers is detrimental to public confidence in the orderly conduct of NFL games and the integrity and good character of NFL players."

The league also added: "The CBA explicitly describes the organizing principle for determining whether conduct is 'conduct detrimental'--'the detriment to the League and professional football that would result from impairment of public confidence in the honest and orderly conduct of NFL games or the integrity and good character of NFL players.' There should be no doubt that a player's active participation in a program that encourages injuries to or disabling of opponents impairs public confidence in the orderly conduct of NFL games and the integrity and good character of NFL players."

The players view it differently.

"Even though the Players disagree with the NFL's assertion that Commissioner Goodell 'did not impose discipline on any of the four players for on-field contact' that argument nonetheless misses the point," the players' reply said. "The only aspect of Coach (Gregg) Williams' alleged 'pay-for-performance/bounty' program that the Commissioner would have jurisdiction to discipline would be intent-to-injure agreements - but there were no such agreements. As such, any decision by Mr. Tagliabue sustaining "conduct detrimental discipline against the Players would violate 'the essence of the CBA.'"

The players also argue the NFL "breezes" past the decision of the three-person appeals panel as if it didn't exist. The panel vacated the suspensions of the four players in early September.

The panel vacated the suspensions because this case involves an issue of "conduct detrimental to the integrity of, our public confidence in, the game of professional football" and an issue of salary cap violations. The panel explained that Goodell can rule on conduct issues, while a system arbitrator is supposed to rule on salary cap issues.

As for Berrigan's question about if the players were given adequate notice of what conduct could be sanctioned as "conduct detrimental," the players argued, "The CBA provides no notice to NFL players that encouraging or rewarding legal hits could constitute 'conduct detrimental.' Rather, the only types of 'conduct detrimental' specified in the CBA - bribery, fixing games, betting on games, associating with gamblers, and using performance-enhancing drugs - cannot be analogized to rewarding on-field hits that are permitted by the rules of the game."

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Old 12-04-2012, 10:39 PM   #2
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Re: Jousting continues on legal front in New Orleans Saints' bounty court case

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Old 12-05-2012, 07:02 AM   #3
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Re: Jousting continues on legal front in New Orleans Saints' bounty court case

The most important quote from the entire thing.
" "The CBA provides no notice to NFL players that encouraging or rewarding legal hits could constitute 'conduct detrimental.' Rather, the only types of 'conduct detrimental' specified in the CBA - bribery, fixing games, betting on games, associating with gamblers, and using performance-enhancing drugs - cannot be analogized to rewarding on-field hits that are permitted by the rules of the game.""

Reason

"Also, Courts abide by the rule that an ambiguous contract is interpreted against the party who drafted it. In other words, the party who did not draft the contract will be given the benefit of the doubt so to speak. "

Interpretation of Ambiguous contracts - Interpretation of Contracts - Contracts


When the League set out to define what was illegal they failed to cover everything. Had they not started to define then it could be argued with reasonable doubt...
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Old 12-05-2012, 05:57 PM   #4
 
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Re: Jousting continues on legal front in New Orleans Saints' bounty court case

New Orleans Saints DE Will Smith mum on his feelings of how bounty appeals hearings fared | NOLA.com
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Old 12-05-2012, 06:15 PM   #5
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Re: Jousting continues on legal front in New Orleans Saints' bounty court case

This is so stupid. How many times has a defensive player said "let's kill those guys". That is pretty much what they are penalizing for NOW
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Old 12-05-2012, 09:52 PM   #6
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Re: Jousting continues on legal front in New Orleans Saints' bounty court case

Wait and see.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:52 PM   #7
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Re: Jousting continues on legal front in New Orleans Saints' bounty court case

I can see the commissioner on horse back jousting with Jon Vilma. He'd lose badly I'm sure.
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